Deeply rooted in Paris

Serge interviews DJ Deep

Deeply rooted in Paris

20-06-2014 | 10.09

This coming Friday, Clone boss Serge invited Parisian cult figure DJ Deep to his label night in De Verdieping. Both men go way back to the early days of house and techno. They share a couple of simularities as artists, both also plenty of big differences in their approach. Serge had a chat with DJ Deep (Cyril Etienne) about his past and a good look into the future of his Deeply Rooted label and the status of the Parisian club scene.

Serge: First of all; great to have you at a Clone label night. 
DJ Deep: "Thanks so much for having me!"

Serge: Let me start with a sort of confession: I don't think I ever told you this, but I'm pretty sure I knew you before you knew about me or Clone Records. I had a friend who was living in Paris and was telling me about the Rex and brought mix tapes from a guy named DJ Deep. That must have been around '94 or '95 I think. That was the first time I heard about DJ Deep and this is the first time in all those years we both we play at the same night! Long overdue but needless to say, I'm looking forward to this!
DJ Deep: "Same here, many thanks for the invitation!"

Serge: First question is a long one. I think there is a whole generation not knowing about your past. You go, just like me, way back to the early days of house and techno and we both have been into collecting house and techno records almost like autists. Currently you are more techno orientated, while I can't seem to pick any specialism. I'm just curious, how did it grow like this during the last couple of years? Did it just grow like this or has it been a choice for a certain reason?
DJ Deep: "I started as a techno DJ playing at the first underground raves in Paris in the late 80's, early 90's. When I met Laurent (Garnier), it has never been a question of house or techno. It was always both, there was no choice really. Laurent would kindly have me open for him at La Luna, Le Boy or Le Palace and later on Rex, and it was always a mix of house and techno. The only choice was underground or commercial, the underground was both house and techno with all it's subgenres and there has always been a lot of influences in house and techno which to me is the beauty of it. I mean, a deep house record from NYC 's Jovonn is quite different from an acid track by Chicago's K Alexi, but still both are house!"
"So I started mostly as a techno DJ after being in love with the first wave of Detroit techno. I soon became an unconditional fan of Underground Resistance, I was lucky enough to go to Detroit on various occasions (including a trip for a documentary called Global Techno for a French producer of Arte that asked me to help him with it). At the time, I had a radio show on FG which I started in my early twenties."
"But at a time, I personally could not connect with the techno scene in Europe in the late 90's. I guess it had become something that was too aggressive and too far from the forward thinking and sci-fi dreams I had with the original Detroit Techno first wave. I also felt the New York house sound was at the time more interesting, more funky, or at least closer to the roots of what I loved so much with house and techno: a fusion of styles, but still with it's own unique character. After that, I had a show on Nova in the late 90's and started doing my own nights at Rex and Legends where I could invite people that never came to Paris and of which I thought that they were producing the greatest sound at the moment; people like Kerri Chandler, Jovonn, Moodymann and Saint Germain."
"In the past five years, I drastically orientated myself towards techno again as it regained a lot of energy, and in my opinion, with a brand new generation of clubbers. The feeling has changed, especially at parties: it's more positive and forward thinking and I like that a lot. I liked a lot what Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann brought to this music, a unique Berlin feeling maybe, with something funky to it, that really gets me! That's why I was so happy I could invite them together for the first time at Rex for one of my parties in early 2000."
"I think a movement has started again, and I am quite happy I could be somehow a part of it.
But as I am always on the look-out for something challenging, and I'm trying not to 'fall asleep' at one place. I feel I also need a change now, that's why I try and challenge myself to play across the board more and more. I really enjoy how Marcel Dettmann is playing at the moment in that sense, as well as how Derrick May is finding a way to connect a lot of different of styles at the moment."

Serge: You we're part of a very vibrant scene in Paris at that time. Laurent Garnier with Wake Up & Fcom Records, Dj Cam, St. Germain, Gilb'r, Daft Punk and a vibrant Rex Club. I know you are a very modest guy and like to downplay your role a bit. However, I think you and Laurent Garnier are the only two proper DJ's from that period while the rest were mainly known as producers. And it's also you two guys that are still around as DJ's today. How come there are so few proper DJ's from Paris/France and so many good and successful producers? Or is my question wrong and am I missing about loads of good French DJ's from that period who are still active?
DJ Deep: "Thanks for the kind words, but Laurent is really a unique and amazing DJ and I think he always has been this kind of person for who DJ'ing is like a second nature. I'm just a transmitter, I'm not interested to be looked at as a guru, or a genius for mixing two or three beat tools together for a couple of minutes. I'm just so excited about playing what I think is great music for people and hopefully inspiring them!"
"I think guys like Franck Roger or DJ Gregory (and his Point G allias) are also very good producers and DJ's. Same goes for Zadig. Francois X is an other example of a guy who teached himself both disciplines and is now a great DJ and really fine producer. I can also see in the burgeoning French techno scene a lot of talents like Roman Poncet and Antigone. Those guys are really are in the process of mastering their craft as producers, and for whom DJ'ing is more natural than for the previous generations. They don't put it on a pedestal like we (you and I) maybe did, but they respect the music and the process of mixing comes more naturally for them."

Serge: You are working with a lot of new talented guys on your label Deeply Rooted/ Deeply Rooted House. Who is your hot tip we should keep an eye on?
DJ Deep: "Roman Poncet is such a unique guy, I think he will surprise all of us with amazing stuff! Francois X is developing his sound and DJ'ing so fast it's really impressive. Dax J and the whole Ear To Ground crew are very talented UK techno producers. I'm currently talking with Cleric about releasing one of his record. Whether it happens or not, I think he's super talented!"
Serge: For me as an outsider, France (and Paris in particular) seems to have a new generation standing up filled with good producers, great new DJ's and promoters doing great nights. Whats your view on this?
DJ Deep: "I am amazed, I mean two weeks ago we had the Weather festival with 35.000 people and an amazing line up. That to me is the real proof we do have a scene again in Paris. It's a new generation and they love and know their music. It's incredibly inspiring!

Serge: What's your current top 5 records that we most likely can expect to hear this coming friday during your set?
DJ Deep: Roman Poncet - AAD Deeply Rooted 
Raiz - The Struggle (Droid Behaviour)
Johaness Heil - Perception Figure
Floorplan - Never Grow Old (Re-Plant) M PLANT
NTTA11 - Vistula Random Island 8